Newcomer Cornish Lithium Limited, a start-up hoping to lead the development of a lithium industry in the UK, has raised £1 million (about $1.3 million), which will allow the firm to decide where best to drill and sample for lithium in the ancient mining region of Cornwall.
The company, led by the head of mining research at Investec Plc, Jeremy Wrathall, said the money was raised from three investors, who will be allowed to appoint one director to the board.
The bakers are Keith Liddell, a former chief executive of Aquarius Platinum; Chris von Christierson, a director at Southern Prospecting, and Peter Smedvig, a private investor.
Thanks to the cash injection, Cornish Lithium said is ready to undertake what is believed to be the largest, single unified exploration project in the history of the UK.
After confirming its targets for drilling, the company plans to raise a further £4 million ($5m) to fund its drilling programme in about a year’s time, possibly through a listing on London’s junior Aim market.
Chief executive Wrathall trusts demand for lithium will continue to soar due to growth in electric car ownership and battery energy storage.
“Given the extensive historic readings of lithium in geothermal brines as well as the recent advances in technology, we see a real potential for lithium production in Cornwall,” Liddell said in the statement.
“Combined with the global shift in focus towards electric vehicles and battery energy storage we believe that Cornish Lithium could potentially become a very significant player in the lithium industry in the UK and Europe” he added.
The region of Cornwall is known for its tin and copper mines, but so far nobody has exploited its lithium, which are mostly found in natural hot underground springs.
It is said that high levels of the white metal were identified in the water in Cornish mines in the 19th Century, but there was no market for it at that time.
Frequently referred to as “white petroleum,” the metal drives much of the modern world, as it has become an irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries used in high tech devices.
The lithium market, while still relatively small — worth about $1bn a year — is expected to triple in size by 2025, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.
Cornish Lithium Limited wants to take advantage of that opportunity and says it hopes to secure £5 million (about $6.2m) of investment for exploration work around Camborne, Redruth and St Day.
The metal would be extracted by drilling at least 400 metres (1,300ft) into rock and pumping out lithium-laden water.
Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China, but the UK government has recently designated it as a metal of strategic importance to the country.